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Aussies cast doubt on Bhupathi injuries

Adelaide: World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt will team up with Todd Woodbridge for Australia in Saturday’s Davis Cup doubles match against India.

Speaking at the Memorial Drive Tennis Center Wednesday, Woodbridge said Hewitt will play both singles and doubles in the World Group qualifying tie that starts here Friday.

The Indian challenge is led by Leander Paes, who has a doubles ranking of 22, but his partner is yet to be announced. Paes’ regular Davis Cup partner Mahesh Bhupathi has pulled out of the team with injury problems.

Woodbridge cast doubt on Bhupathi’s claim. “In New York (for the US Open) he looked 100 per cent fit,” he said, adding that Bhupathi’s absence severely weakened the Indian team.

Hewitt questioned whether something was wrong in the Indian team. “It was a big surprise that Mahesh didn’t come, I had no idea,” Hewitt said. “He’s pulled out with a shoulder injury but I don’t know how bad his sh0oulder is.

“Just on the fact that he came off the US Open win two weeks ago, it mustn’t be too bad. It’s obviously something in the camp there, or he didn’t want to make the long trip.”

Bhupathi and Paes, who teamed up to win the Wimbledon and French Open doubles titles in 1999, have been the backbone of India’s Davis Cup team for the past seven years, holding an 11-3 record in doubles.

They ended their successful tournament partnership in March this year, for undisclosed reasons, although they played Davis Cup doubles together against New Zealand in April and won. The top-ranked Indian player in Adelaide now is Rohan Bopanna, ranked 363.

Woodbridge and Hewitt have played just one doubles match together. Woodbridge, the world No. 5 in doubles, said the match-up made for an imposing team.

“Me with a great record in doubles and Lleyton who is the No. 1 player in the world, there is a lot of pressure on the other team,” he said.

Apart from Hewitt, Australia are likely to field big-serving left-hander Wayne Arthurs in the singles. The fourth team member is Scott Draper. Both Hewitt and Woodbridge were part of the 1999 team that won the Davis Cup in France.

n Another report on Page 25

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